There's been a few questions lately about BMI and body fat percentage so I wondered what people's opinions about hip to waist ratio are? I've heard this is a good indicator of visceral as opposed to subcutaneous fat. As I understand it women should have a ratio of 0.7 and men's should be about 0.8. I am a 45 yr old female, 5'6" and weigh 57kg (about 125 pounds). According to my scales, which are probably inaccurate, my body fat is about 19%. So I don't think I need to lose weight. However my hip measurement is 37 inches and my waist is 30 inches. According to the ratio my waist should be 26 inches. I always feel pudgy round the middle and despite having been paleo for over a year now I seem stuck with my belly. I had a hysterectomy about 2 years so not sure if that's got anything to do with it. (I didn't go through menopause at the time because I have an ovarian remnant - I think that's just about been killed off now and the doctor has put me on the HRT Livial to keep it in check). So should I be worrying about visceral fat? And is there anything I can do to get rid of my podge? - I'm not expecting a six pack but it would be good to get jeans that fit (they normally hang off my non-existent backside!)
asked byqueen_of_the_stone_age (2250)
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on January 20, 2011
at 08:15 PM
The ratio is more an evolutionary psychology idea about those idea ratios. What I have read puts women around 20% BF.
Perhaps yours is simply a matter of where the fat is resting. Visceral fat is important to get rid of.
The most important thing is that you need to do this because it makes YOU feel good, not because literature tells you that your body should be shaped like Y or Z.
Ive posted my 10step paleo weight loss in a few other threads. Will help you peel off the visceral fat if thats your goal.
on January 21, 2011
at 12:49 AM
First of all, basic body shape, eg. "pear" vs. "apple," is something inherited that you have no control over. Please try not to worry about that which you cannot control.
You can control your lifestyle, which you are already doing. Your lifestyle is healthy. Your total bodyfat is healthy. Your overall cardiovascular risk is probably quite low.
Who says .7 is the "ideal" ratio, anyway? I looked at some of the WHR calculator websites, and they're all over the map. Here's one from Rush University in Chicago that says up to .8 is "low risk" for women, and you have to be >1 to be "at risk." Also, a waist measurement of 35in. or greater is "at risk," and you're not even close to that. Here's one that quotes the American Heart Association as saying that a ratio of less than .88 for women is low risk. So I would urge you not to get over-invested in that .7 number.
If you've been paleo for over a year, your visceral fat is probably mostly gone anyway. If you lose weight from here, your waist/hip ratio may increase, decrease, or stay the same. You can't direct a spot reduction--you will lose bodyfat where your body wants to lose it.
on November 18, 2011
at 03:14 AM
I hate to resurrect an old question, but I've been researching this a lot and I think it's important. It's not true that you can't alter your WHR. I altered mine (.8 to .69), so did my mother. A woman who has had children or is older will naturally have a higher WHR though and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Dr. Lassek and anthropologist Steven Gaulin have theorized that lower WHR allows women to have their first baby be relatively small, which is good because the pelvic bones haven't stretched much. But once they are stretched, a woman can afford to have larger babies, which have a higher survival ratio. Waist fat is associated with larger babies and cross-culturally women start having more when they have more children. Even if a woman doesn't have children, there is selective pressure to have that bigger waist because in the past if a woman started late, she would producing fewer children and so it's more important for them to survive considering ancient infant mortality rates.
They are releasing a diet book in Dec which I just read an advance copy of. They also have a free paper here. Unfortunately, some of the fat distribution is laid down during early development and then during puberty, but I think most women can alter their WHR a little towards the favorable end, which is associated with better health, attractiveness, and fertility. Ideally this is .68 to .93, but if you are younger you should look more towards .7 You can't spot reduce by restricting calories, you are going to need to alter your hormones (leptin in particular plays a role). It's not just anecdotal either, it's been documented in studies. Interesting they originally theorized that in obese women, it was their excessive body fat that was causing fertility issues, but in studies they were perplexed by the fact that some women restored fertility with weight loss and others didn't. However when they looked at WHR they found that this was the important thing, that women who had shifted WHR were the ones who restored their fertility.
on January 21, 2012
at 07:31 PM
I second the comment about having a short torso vs. a long torso. I got into T-Tapp workouts last year (need to get back to it, fell off the wagon over the holidays) and Teresa Tapp has extensive explanations in her book and videos about the distance between the top of your pelvic bone and the bottom of your rib cage. Basically, the larger the distance, the smaller waist you can have. A long-torso person will have 6-8 inches where the only bone is the spine. You can make that area smaller with fat loss and exercise. In contrast, my short torso has about an inch of space between the pelvic bone and rib cage. I can't make bone get smaller. So I could literally starve to death and still not have a 25" waist. If you buy tops in the Petite section even though you're over 5'3", you are definitely a short torso. To conclude, if you have a very short torso, you will have a harder time getting to that ideal waist-to-hip ratio, if it's even possible--which I would say invalidates the utility of that measurement for those folks. (That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it!)
on November 18, 2011
at 03:51 PM
I don't place much worth in the so-called "ideal" ratios. First of all, if a woman has a short torso (measured vertically -- boyish shape when slender), she will automatically have a larger waist measurement than someone with a long torso that nips in -- (hourglass shape when slender) irrespective of body fat. Enlarged uterus from uterine fibroids -- especially subserous fibroids -- will also make a waist measurement inaccurate in terms of body fat. I think women concerned about fertility should have their children at the biologically appropriate ideal age ranges rather than waiting until 30s and 40s when decades of poor dietary and sleep habits combined with natural hormonal declines have already started to take their toll and increasingly even earlier. So many young women resorting to IVF -- something is wrong and I don't think a few pounds here or there is the real problem. If underweight alone was the issue, why do women in famine countries get pregnant over and over again while the typical US career woman who "wanted it all" and waited until late 30s or 40s to have a child after decades of stress, crap diet, artificial hormones etc has a devil of a time getting preggers? Is it possible to load up on hormones and fertility drugs to force aging ovaries to produce many more eggs than would be considered natural in order to maximize chances for a pregnancy over 40? Of course. Is it ideal? Of course not. Are there sometimes unintended consequences? Yes.